Minor crimes punishable by community service

Includes shoplifting, common assault
Elizabeth Kheibes
The Omaheke region has joined the rest of the country in punishing minor offences with community service.
Raphael Hamunyela, the Commissioner General of the Namibia Correctional Services (NCS), made this announcement in Gobabis last week.
The crimes that will be punishable with community service include shoplifting, theft, contempt of court, assault, crimen injuria, unlawful entry and assault by threats.
However, first offenders, repeat offenders with minor offences, offenders with a fixed address, breadwinners with dependents and young offenders will be the only criminals eligible for community service.
"The adoption of community service orders as a sentencing option has the potential to reduce the number of inmates within our correctional facilities, thereby saving the state much needed resources as it reduces the costs associated with custodial care such as food, utilities, medication and other related expenses.
"This will enable the redirection of limited resources to other critical needs," said Hamunyela.
Since the full implementation of the orders in 2010, 2 967 offenders have been sentenced to community service, he highlighted.
Of these, 2 641 (89%) completed their community service by 31 August.
"Only 274 offenders breached their sentence conditions," Hamunyela said, adding that approximately 95% of these offenders breached the conditions by re-offending.
Meanwhile, 52 offenders were still busy with their community service by 31 August.
"The successes achieved in the implementation of the programme through proper monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with sentence conditions so far create confidence in the effectiveness of community service orders as a sentencing option in Namibia," he added.
According to the head of community service orders, deputy commissioner Natacha Booysen, the process of sentencing an individual to community service will include investigations after arrest, as well as reintegration into an identified community for service to begin.
"The type of service includes cleaning and maintenance work in government schools, clinics, hospitals, parks, police stations, and magistrates' courts; the delivery of special services to needy members of the community in, for example, old people's homes, children's homes, hospitals; and the delivery of specialist or professional services to the community such as teaching and the provision of medical, welfare and counseling services," she said.
Furthermore, duties include the sharing of skills and knowledge, which could mean coaching sports activities or offering training in a particular trade or art," added Booysen.
All duties will be performed without compensation, but for the benefit of the community, she emphasised.